Severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Delhi Metro has appealed to the Centre to revise the safety protocols to allow it to operate trains with at least full seating capacity to make up for the revenue shortfall. After being closed for over five months due to the pandemic, Delhi Metro on September 7 had resumed services with curtailed operation of the Yellow Line, before assuming full operations from September 12, all in compliance with the latest safety guidelines issued by the government.
The 169-day closure of services from March 22 onwards had already financially hit the urban transporter and post resumption, regulated number of commuters further impacted its financial health. Sources on Friday said the DMRC has written to the Centre to revise the safety protocols so as to allow it to operate trains with at least full seating capacity to augment its revenue.
It had written to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and also cited the permission given in October last year to buses in Delhi to carry to their full seating capacities, they said. Besides, the DMRC has already sought financial assistance for Rs 1,648.4 crore for the central, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments where it runs operations, they said.
While the DMRC has resumed service since September, as per COVID-19 safety norms, each commuter has to sit on alternate seats, leaving a seat between them vacant. Also, standing riders have to maintain a stipulated distance between them, thus further reducing the carrying capacity of a coach. This is leading to less number of commuters at a time in any train, and also longer queues at metro stations.
Due to these 'new normal' restrictions, only 50-60 passengers in total can now travel in a coach, which in pre-COVID time carried 300-350 people during the peak hours. One metro coach's full seating capacity is about 50.
After resuming services on September 7, the DMRC had also kept only 269 of the 682 entry-exit gates open due to safety norms. At present, that number has been increased to 447, amid improvement in COVID-19 situation here.
DMRC has 10 lines spanning 242 stations, and 264 stations including the Rapid Metro in Gurgaon. Delhi recorded 141 fresh COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Friday, even as the positivity rate stood at 0.22 per cent, authorities said.